Developing talent

Gormans’ estate gift will fund School of Business professorship

Shirley and Mike Gorman

Shirley and Mike Gorman are fortifying the entrepreneurship and innovation program with a gift to establish an endowed professorship.

Shirley Gorman, bba ’86, mba ’96, has seen plenty of Topeka business owners get their entrepreneurial start while she worked with the Washburn School of Business and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

She and her husband, Mike Gorman, aa ’77, are ensuring entrepreneurial hopefuls will have great classroom leadership in the future. A gift in the Gormans’ estate plan will endow a professorship in the entrepreneurship and innovation program, a new degree offered by Washburn that helps students learn how to build a successful business from the ground up.

“The best students learn from great faculty members,” Shirley said. “And having an endowed professorship in our estate plan seems like a valid use of the money we worked so hard to save.”

Shirley has had an interest in entrepreneurship since the '80s when it wasn’t a popular topic.

“Back then, you went to business school to work for a corporation. You didn’t go to business school to start your own business,” she said. “Now, entrepreneurship is very popular.”

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Washburn in 1986 and then soon started working in the Small Business Development Center.

“I knew I didn’t want to work with corporate America and searched for other alternatives,” she said. “The SBDC combined working with people in the community and teaching business skills.”

High quality teachers are the foundation for excellence in education. Endowed academic chairs and professorships provide the resources needed to attract and retain outstanding faculty and strengthen Washburn's reputation as a resource for well-prepared graduates. Faculty who hold these positions are outstanding teachers who lead in developing innovative and relevant curriculum and have a passion for working with, motivating, and challenging students. Learn more about endowed gifts and contact Jeannie Shy at 785.670.2734 or to learn how you can make a difference.

She then went on to serve the School of Business as director of student affairs and run the MBA program. She saw many students go on to great careers.

Mike earned his associate’s degree in computer science when it was a groundbreaking career field and had a successful career of more than 30 years at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. They are both retired now and saw fit about two years ago to begin the estate planning process. Through John Griffin, an estate planner provided by Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation, they worked to put their wishes in place.

“He was very helpful and made the process less intimidating,” Shirley said. The Gormans took the estate plan John helped them develop to their attorney to finalize.

Mike and Shirley feel confident that the process will create a meaningful legacy and would for anyone else interested in making Washburn a part of their estate plan.

“You can trust that your wishes are going to be fulfilled,” she said.

You too can leave a legacy at Washburn in an area important to you. For information on estate planning and leaving a gift for an academic chair, professorship, scholarship or other uses, contact Jeannie Shy at 785.670.2734 or

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